View Full Version : Surnames way back then
20-11-2008, 2:14 AM
As well as where they lived, I'm also interested in their name itself. There is a grant from 1234 which mentions 'Nicholas son of Osbert of Langdon; Ralph son of Osbert of Langdon; Simon son of Osbert of Langdon' and there is also a grant of about 1250 which mentions "John son of Osbert of South Langdon" and his inheritance of a fourth part of Osbert's 165 acres. That implies three other sons and that would be Nicholas, Ralph and Simon. Notice no surname for this family at all. Osbert is never termed Osbert Bole or Osbert le Bole but in the mid-1200's there are references for Simon le Bole son of Osbert, Nicholas le Bole, Simon Bole, John the priest brother of Simon Bole and a reference to Simon Bole's land near Cnoldane as 'the land of Simon, Ralph's brother'. And those are all the Boles mentioned in that area in that period in the Carterbury Cathedral Archives online catalogue. So exactly the same 4 given names as the sons of Osbert of Langdon and one of them specifically called "le Bole son of Osbert". By the end of the 1200's there are a few more Boles around identified as the sons of Ralph and Simon. The name becomes Boles in the 1290's. in Chartham later it becomes Bolles and in Chatham later we get Bowles. I have identified the family links between these cities so I know I'm working with the same line.
I'm assuming it's 99% likely that the 4 sons adopted the name 'Bole' or 'le Bole' in the 1230's although their father did not. So why? I've heard that 'le Bole' means 'the bull' so maybe these were just 4 strapping big lads that somehow suggested bulls to someone? I'm grasping at straws here. Any suggestions to where such a name may have come from?
20-11-2008, 9:51 AM
I'm grasping at straws here. Any suggestions to where such a name may have come from?
I don't know, but there are several books on the origins of surnames and you may find copies in a local library (or they may get them through inter-library loan).
There are a lot of references to 'Bole' on TNA's catalogue (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/searchresults.asp?SearchInit=0&txtsearchterm=bole&txtfirstdate=&txtlastdate=&txtrestriction=&hdnsorttype=Reference&image1.x=28&image1.y=14)
and several Chancery and Exchequer references to 'le bole' (http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/searchresults.asp?SearchInit=0&txtsearchterm=le+bole&txtfirstdate=&txtlastdate=&txtrestriction=&hdnsorttype=Reference&image1.x=35&image1.y=2)over a period of time and in differing locations which suggest that the name in England may have been adopted in more than one location and is probably a descriptive (nick?)name.
20-11-2008, 4:24 PM
Yes, I do know quite a lot about the origin of the name in England and there are 4 theoretical sources, I have more details but basically the four are Norman, Viking, Early English meaning valley and Early English meaning bull. It's exciting to have, possibly, uncovered the actual origin of the name in one of the known lines. How often does that happen in genealogy? I'm hoping now that someone on this forum who really knows this period will be able to give me a nice line of speculation based on the events of the times, possibly the geography of the area, anything that furthers or supports this apparent event. If someone knows better and shoots down my assumption then that's okay too. I would just like to get to a most-likely view of events.
20-11-2008, 9:55 PM
Yes, I do know quite a lot about the origin of the name in England and there are 4 theoretical sources
Theory and practice often differ. I would suspect that with a name such as BO(W)(L)L(E)(S) - and other variants - there is more than one origin; including adoption of a name by association with it.
I'm hoping now that someone on this forum who really knows this period
It isn't just the period but the area. The local knowledge relating to the time period is what you need.
will be able to give me a nice line of speculation based on the events of the times, possibly the geography of the area, anything that furthers or supports this apparent event.
It will need a lot more than speculation - I could happily speculate for you as could many on these forums, but such speculation is likely to be wrong unless someone has a really detailed knowledge of the place, the period AND the family/ies involved. There is a lot of work involved in interpreting these older documents.
I hope I've got this right (forgive me if I have misinterpreted it) - Have you traced your family back to a Simon, Osbert or Nicholas le Bole and are now trying to connect them to the people with the same name of South Langdon - and so understand the why and how they are believed to have assumed the name? If so, what document have you found from the period recording the family, as this may then hint towards where to look next.
21-11-2008, 6:16 PM
I don't suppose I will ever know the facts for this family adopting the name Bole but I would like to come up with a couple of possible scenarios which would be consistent with the known facts that I do have and which fit the nature of such events in those times. I wouldn't claim to be right and wouldn't mind being wrong. I like to work from a few theories and then see which ones survive with time.
I just had a new discovery from studying the Canterbury Cathedral Archives last night. The exact dates are at home but there is a grant for some land adjacent to that of Simon the son of Osbert. This was earlier than any occurence of the Bole surname but it is referring to Simon le Bole as the rest of the land description makes clear. It is south of Knoldane etc. Remember that Simon's land was next to the field of Teaghe. This grant for the land next to his is described as 'in Boleteghe'. At first I thought the land was named after the Bole family but I think it is equally likely to be the opposite. Looking into the Old English glossaries, it seems that bole is bull as we've said before but I just found that teghe may refer to an enclosure. I wonder if anyone could comment on that? Put together, boleteghe would be bull enclosure. The family may have taken the Bole name from their association with bulls. I suppose that would have been a bit like the origin of the name Baker etc., occupation based.
Or the field was just enclosed and it was named Boleteghe after the Bole family.
Could be either I suppose.
21-11-2008, 7:22 PM
Geoffers, you're right to caution me on the family linkages but what I'm doing right now is collecting the data from the archives records, sorting it and seeing what fits close enough to be considered a convincing scenario for the line of descent. Little bits and pieces taken from different documents may yet tell a compelling story or possibly not. So far I have to say it looks pretty likely but once I get all the discussion together I'll post it to my web site and invite a further critical analysis of the conclusions. I do have a lot of other references which fit together but much too much to try to present through this forum.
I really think that I'll be able to put enough together to give a convincing argument for my conclusions but if not I'll include commentary on the weak points on the page myself.
This is not actually my direct line of descent. I'm doing the single surname study for the name Bowles. My own Bowles line is English but I haven't been able to trace them past Ireland so far.
22-11-2008, 8:32 PM
Many surnames started off with weird spellings like Gosnold was once Gosenoll, and many 13th century surnames was De Loudham, or De or Le Breton. Roger was a very common first name back then as well, as was Simon and Nicholas.
22-02-2009, 10:35 PM
Keep in mind surnames were ilegal for the common.
'Nicholas son of Osbert of Langdon"
"John son of Osbert of South Langdon"
This is a common way to identify a person when there was more than one in the neighborhood with the same name.
"Simon le Bole son of Osbert, Nicholas le Bole, Simon Bole, John the priest brother of Simon Bole and a reference to Simon Bole's land near Cnoldane as 'the land of Simon, Ralph's brother'."
Again efforts to narrow the field of families. The French wording became common among the gentry after William's arrival, and soon spread to the common. This may well simply refer to the part of the family that lived in a valley or lower ground than the more prominate members that lived farther up the hill.
"I'm assuming it's 99% likely that the 4 sons adopted the name 'Bole' or 'le Bole' in the 1230's although their father did not. So why? I've heard that 'le Bole' means 'the bull' so maybe these were just 4 strapping big lads that somehow suggested bulls to someone? I'm grasping at straws here. Any suggestions to where such a name may have come from?"
When surnames became legal many names like John of Chester became John Chester, but so did Joe son of John become Joe Johnson. Add in the Church's habit of using latin forms of names in records and the plot really thickens.
Without a real in depth understanding of the people, geography, and the times we are only guessing.
23-02-2009, 7:31 AM
Keep in mind surnames were ilegal for the common.
Just out of curiosity - when were surnames illegal and by what authority?
When did it become legal to have a surname?
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